Ottawa public health officials will learn Friday whether the city will move to an Orange Restrict zone, or whether it will remain in Red Control status once the provincial lockdown is lifted on Feb. 16, when the city returns to the provinces framework system of public health restrictions.
Current monitoring indicators would put us in the Orange Restrict zone, however we have seen how quickly things can change so this is not yet a guarantee, said Ottawas Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches in a special statement issued Thursday afternoon.
The province is likely to announce tomorrow which zone Ottawa will transition to under the framework, Etches said.
I want to thank the people of Ottawa for once again getting us to a place where we can gradually and cautiously reopen schools and some businesses. We know this hasnt been easy, she said. But the fact that we are in a position to slowly reopen is direct proof that our actions matter.
She urged people to continue adhering to the routine behaviours that we know keep COVID-19 transmission low: wear a mask, limit close contact to the people you live with, stay two metres apart from others, stay home when youre sick except to get tested and practice proper hand hygiene.
More businesses will be reopening next week under the provincial plan, with Etches pleading for patience and asking in-person shoppers and diners to be respectful of the public health guidelines in place.
With schools, Ottawa Public Health is urging parents to not mix households with other children unless essential for childcare.
When children are not in school or in childcare, they should not be in close contact with anyone outside their household, Etches said.
This is crucial to keeping our children healthy and in school, she said in the statement, asking those picking up children at school to maintain distance from others and to avoid forming a crowd. Wearing a mask is recommended.
Travel outside the region should only be for essential reasons, Etches said. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others, especially with the presence of more transmissible variants.
Right now, our focus needs to be on whats within our control buying time and keeping COVID-19 levels manageable until there is enough vaccine available to all eligible residents of Ottawa who wish to receive one. This will happen, Etches said, with progress on the vaccination front showing nearly 35,000 doses administered in Ottawa to date.
It will still be several months until vaccines are available to the general population, Etches said, and more vigorous public health measures may be required if more transmissible variants of concern take root.
Etches also announced she is taking time off next week to spend time with family.
This has been one of, if not the most, challenging times of our lives. We know the pandemic has had significant negative impacts on peoples mental health and well-being, she wrote.
Everyone needs a break, including me, which is why I will be taking some time off next week to get in some extra cuddles with my boys, spend more time outside exercising, and keep connected virtually with friends and family.